Evanston can be a great location for dating: there are tons of coffee shops, casual restaurants, and pricier ones to accompany your progression as a couple. Of course finding that special someone is already rewarding enough, but an added bonus of relationships is that you have more excuses to go out on dates and experience different cuisines together. Let’s think of a relationship as a train ride with various stops. Here are a few recommendations as to where to dine once you and your partner reach each stop.

Getting on the train: It’s the first date. You want to make a great first impression and get to know each other. For this reason, pick a restaurant that’s busy, but quiet enough to be able to communicate freely without screaming. The bustling of people will help ease the nerves and make you both feel more comfortable, and the right amount of noise will make it easy to talk. A great option is Bat 17, right in Evanston. Bat 17 has a young atmosphere (mostly undergrads and graduate students) and tasty, hearty food. Its sandwiches and burgers could be termed “super-sized,” giving you your full money’s worth. The burger sliders are juicy and come on buttery brioche buns. Also, the sweet potato fries are crispy and less greasy than standard fries, upping that health factor. And if you feel self-conscious ordering a chunk of meat on a first day, Bat 17 has tons of salads and healthy sandwiches, like turkey on wheat bread. Also, if you are both 21 or over, order a round (or two) of drinks; the restaurant has a wide selection.

Bat 17
Rating: ★★★★
Price range: $$
Address: 1709 Benson Ave, Evanston, IL 60201
Hours of operation: Mon-Thur 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Fri 11:00 a.m. to midnight, Sat 10:00 a.m. to midnight, Sun 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Photo by Ellen Barry

First stop: Ok, so that first date was a hit, and now you’re ready to hang out again. Try a coffee date. Coffee dates are casual and can be really intimate. Plus, they can go on for hours! These dates center around conversation, without having to allot much focus to eating food. We recommend heading to Argo Tea or Cafe Mozart. Both are pretty quiet, allowing you both to get cozy in a relaxed setting, and have a real range of teas, coffee and food, in case you do get hungry. Argo Tea has a greater selection of teas, so if you want a “tea” date instead, definitely opt for Argo. As for food, the garden lentil salad is our personal favorite. If you want a real “coffee” date, choose Mozart. Cafe Mozart has tons of freshly brewed coffee types and delicious panini sandwiches or muffins to nibble on.

Argo Tea
Rating: ★★★★
Price range: $
Address: 1596 Sherman Ave, Evanston, IL 60201
Hours of operation: Mon-Fri 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Sat-Sun 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Photo by Ellen Barry

Cafe Mozart
Rating: ★★★
Price range: $
Address: 600 Davis Street, Evanston, IL 60201
Hours of operation: Mon-Thur 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Fri 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Sat 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Sun 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Photo by Ellen Barry

Second stop: It’s been about three months of consistent dating, so more expensive restaurants are appropriate. We suggest going to Todoroki. The meal costs roughly $20-25 dollars per person, but the quality of the food is well worth it. The salmon and chicken hibachi combination is cooked well and flavorful, and the fried rice with egg and onion is outstanding. The atmosphere is modern and hip, with low lights and leather chaired tables. For a more romantic setting, sit in the back section in the private cubicles. Plus, you get to take your shoes off and relax.

Todoroki
Rating: ★★★★
Price range: $$
Address: 526 Davis Street, Evanston, IL 60201
Hours of operation: Mon-Thur 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Fri-St 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Sun 12:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Photo by Aurelie Corinthios

Third stop: It’s Sunday morning and you both wake up famished. Game plan? Get some brunch, the definitive meal for a couple. Try Le Peep, a cozy breakfast diner with various options ranging from egg combinations to pancakes and waffles galore. Order the Greek egg-white omelet, with artichoke, feta, tomato and broccoli added, along with their signature-roasted potatoes. The pancakes and waffles are sensational as well, topped with fresh fruit and whip.

Le Peep
Rating: ★★★★
Price range: $$
Address: 827 Church Street, Evanston, IL 60201
Hours of operation: Mon-Fri 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Sat-Sun 7:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Photo by Ellen Barry

Fourth stop: The big 6-month anniversary…you’ve got to have a good plan. This occasion is less about price and more about level of romance. With that regard, choose a restaurant that you can dress nicely for and feel close to your partner at. Think “romance in Paris”, and go to Crepêrie Saint-Germain in Evanston. The setting is quaint, with a real Parisian, dreamy feel to it. These savory dinner crepes come with salmon, steak, duck, chicken or vegetarian, along with a side of thin pommes frites. Try the Steak & Crepe; the serving of 6 oz steak is ideal and does not overwhelm the plate. But make sure to save room for a dessert crepe to share! Try the Marquis, a chocolate crepe filled with dark chocolate mousse, mixed berries preserve, and fresh raspberry coulis. Meal crepes are roughly $12 and dessert ones are $6, so feel free to order that second bottle of wine!

Crepêrie Saint-Germain
Rating: ★★★★
Price range: $$
Address: 1512 Sherman Ave, Evanston, IL 60201
Hours of operation: Mon-Thur 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Fri 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Sat 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Sun 10:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Photo by Ellen Barry

Fifth stop: You’ve made it to the one-year anniversary. Congrats! Time to save up and pick a really memorable restaurant, like some place in Chicago to experience something new in the big city. Make a reservation for Bin 36, restaurant and wine and cheese bar. The portions are small, served more tapas style, and if you are 21, order a flight of their recommended wines. This restaurant offers an opportunity for a wine education course, and the waiters are very knowledgeable and eager to assist. The atmosphere is young and trendy, with a real touch of romance and class. The cheeses are rich and the dishes are flavorful. There’s even a market for purchasing wines to take home. Also, no need to rush on the occasion; on Friday and Saturday nights Bin 36 closes at 1 a.m.

Bin 36
Rating: ★★★★★
Price range: $$$
Address: 339 N Dearborn Street, Chicago IL, 60654
Hours of operation: Mon-Wed 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Thur 6:30 a.m. to midnight, Fri 6:30 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., Sat 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., Sun 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.